1 Eagleton Notes

Friday, 12 December 2014

Back to My View

I used to entitle my posts when I arrived home simply "Home" or "Home Again" but this causes Blogger all sorts of problems.  Well it causes Blogger to act in a way which causes me problems to be precise.

We set sail last evening at 1745 from Ullapool.  ETA Stornoway 2h 40mins later.  However the freight ferry which had also not sailed since Monday was just ahead of us and had to unload at the same berth in Stornoway.  It had 38 commercial vehicles from Transits to huge artics on board and the shops and hauliers were set up to work through the night to get shelves filled and things sorted.  

The skipper said that we should be careful because the swell left from the storms would likely cause a less-than-pleasant crossing.  As it was he managed to read the seas perfectly and the journey was very pleasant.  Unfortunately we had to wait a long time wandering around outside the harbour for the freight ferry to unload and leave the berth and I eventually arrived home somewhere just before 11pm.  I unloaded everything from the car and apart from putting a few perishables in the fridge was in bed and fast asleep by 2340.  I slept until 0813 without as much as an opened eye during the previous 9½ hours.

I've woken to 40 mph gales and more cancelled ferries and an intermittent internet showing a download speed of 0.02 which is next to useless even for emails on the iPhone never mind blogging.  I shall seriously start looking at satellite broadband I think.

I've spent the morning with all the usual chores and the enjoyable catching up and after a bite to eat I shall catch up with Gaz in town and then pop in for coffee and catch-up at Pat and Dave's.

As I never tire of saying it's a hard life but somebody has to do it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Communications and Helplessness

I'm in Callander.  I love Callander.  It is a small place and one where I feel welcome and at ease.  Thanks, of course, to friends I have here. The plan was to return home on Wednesday but things have not turned out well for travelling in the Western Highlands this week.  Ferries have almost all been cancelled on the West Coast of Scotland today as storm force winds and heavy seas batter the north-west of the country.  This morning at 6.25 I woke to a thunderstorm which appears to have knocked out the Vodafone cellphone network (although I'm told that Vodafone is exceptionally unreliable in this area anyway) and twelve hours later I still have no cellphone.  Fortunately I went into Stirling today and was able to catch up with people whom I needed - yes, it a need - to contact.

Calmac (the ferry operator) would not change my booking from this evening to a ferry tomorrow because they say the whole situation is too uncertain to take new bookings.  Given that many of us returning to the Islands will be the best part of a day's journey (through uncertain road conditions) from the mainland ferry terminals of Uig and Ullapool not even knowing if there is space on the ferry if we turn up is an irritation.  So tomorrow I shall have to take a gamble and set out for one of the ports and hope that I can get home.  There is no Met Office warning for severe weather on Friday but the windspeeds at Stornoway at the ferry times on Friday are worse than they are for tomorrow.

So it's been a couple of days of mixed weather and emotions.  The weather has ranged from cold, icy conditions to storms with some of the worst seas I've known on the West Coast and I've had most of a day without a cellphone signal.  On the plus side I've had a good time with friends, I've acquired a Philip Raskin and I've managed to get a few Christmas presents sorted.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Stories My Suitcase Could Tell

Every now and then something one reads hits a chord.  

People get sniffy about all sorts of things: the popularity of Cav and Pag or Mozart Forty or  Classic FM or Jack Vettriano.  Some I know add Facebook to that list.  I like Cav and Pag. I like Mozart's Fortieth.  I would doubtless listen to Classic FM occasionally if it were available in the Hebrides. I enjoyed some of the early Vettrainos long before he was as popular as he is today.  I enjoy Facebook as a way of keeping up with news and friends in different parts of the country and the world.

Today a neighbour shared a post on Facebook: a post from an Islander's blog.  That post hit a chord.

 It was from a blog by Katie MacLeod entitled "Stories My Suitcase Could Tell".  Katie writes:

"I’m Katie, the owner of this ‘suitcase’ full of travel stories.  I’m a twenty-something Scottish islander and International Relations graduate with a love of politics, reading, coffee, chocolate, writing, and of course, travelling.  When I’m not blogging or trying to see the world, you’ll find me busy with my day job as a local journalist, which I love – every day is different."

The post was entitled "On Leaving Home, and Loving the Hebrides" and describes the bond between Islanders and their Island.

I wasn’t brought up on the island and have only lived here for forty of my seventy years but I feel the feelings she described. I am the first generation of my family living here. The second generation was brought up here and is married into the island as well. I think my son would write as Katie has written. I hope that his children will feel as she does and write as she has.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A Concert and a Reminisce

Half a century ago Peter Roberts and I were members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and attended all the Tuesday Subscription Concerts, Saturday Concerts and most of the Industrial Concerts: having season tickets for the same seats year after year.  Then life got in the way of our shared times together.  I married and moved into darkest Cheshire and Peter went into the Church and became an Anglican priest eventually in South Africa where he died.

During that half century I never lost my love of the music which has been a constant companion through the Bad Days and the Good Days.  Yesterday, for the first time since I moved to Lewis, I went to an orchestral concert.  I went with Anna to The Glasgow City Halls (a wonderfully refurbished modern venue) to hear a concert by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra which was being broadcast on Radio 3.  There is something quite engrossing in watching a pianist (Javier Perianes in this concert) play a concerto one thinks one knows so well having played the CD scores of times over the years.  And there is something wonderful about not being able to do anything other than watch and listen and be swallowed up by the emotion of the music and the performance.

We are going to another concert at the City Halls on Monday evening. I'm quite excited.

[The images are downloaded from Google images.]